June 30, 2020
Yesterday the U.S. House passed common sense improvements to the 10-year old Affordable Care Act (ACA) that is responsible for 10 million American’s having affordable, quality health private health insurance and an additional 12.5 million obtaining coverage through expanded Medicaid.
But the ACA is not perfect.
It limits the federal premium assistance for policies purchased through health insurance marketplaces to those with income below 400% of the federal poverty level. This has resulted in small business owners across the country not qualifying for premium assistance and facing escalating insurance premiums that have become unaffordable.
Fourteen states have been allowed by the Supreme Court to not expand Medicaid resulting in millions of very low income, working Americans not qualifying for their state’s Medicaid program but making too little to qualify for affordable health insurance through the ACA. When those in this coverage gap do receive healthcare, the cost is shifted to those with insurance driving up premiums.
The ACA also did nothing to address prescription drug prices, a major driver of higher health insurance premiums, especially for those on Medicare.
A recent poll by Small Business for America’s Future found that lowering healthcare costs was the top priority for helping small businesses to succeed.
The bill passed by the House yesterday addresses all 3 of these serious issues as reported by The Washington Post.
- The bill would eliminate the 400 percent threshold, saying for the first time that no one would be required to pay more than 8.5 percent of their income on the most popular tier of marketplace health plans.
- For 14 states that have not expanded the program, the bill would reduce federal funding for traditional Medicaid. It would also add an inducement, paying for the entire initial cost of an expansion — as the law did when expansions first were allowed in 2014.
- The bill also includes…allowing federal health officials to negotiate the price of drugs under Medicare, the vast federal insurance program for older and disabled Americans.
In addition, the House bill would restore funding for “outreach and enrollment assistance to encourage consumers to sign up for ACA health plans—activities the administration has slashed.”
These are common sense improvements to the ACA that would lower healthcare costs for small businesses and enable more Americans to have affordable healthcare.